Saturday, 24 February 2018

NEWS AND STORIES

Forty-eight of the missing 94 pupils of the Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, have come out of hiding.

The Yobe State Commissioner for Education, Mohammed Lamin, who stated this in Damaturu, added that the state government had organised search parties to look for the remaining 46 pupils.

The Busari Local Government Area, where the attack happened is 100 kilometres away from Damaturu, the Yobe State capital.

Lamin explained that the school registered 28 missing students that returned on Tuesday, saying 20 more were received from Magwaram village on Wednesday.

He said, “This has brought down the number of missing pupils from 94 to 48 as of this morning (Wednesday). We are still hopeful that more pupils will return soon.”

The commissioner asked parents to report to the school whenever their children arrived home.

An anonymous source in the school told our correspondent that the 28 students that returned were rescued by villagers from bushes around Dapchi town.

The source said, “Some of the children trekked between 15 and 20 kilometres in the bush to save their lives. We have also received calls from Fulani settlements that they are bringing more students they found in the bush.”

“So far, no dead body has been recovered, but we heard that one pupil was bitten by a snake. She was said to have been treated locally. But she would be taken to a hospital in Damaturu for proper attention.”

It was gathered that a combined team of security operatives had been drafted to the area to search for the remaining missing students.

The Yobe Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam, charged the military and other security outfits to ensure that none of the pupil was lost.

The governor in a statement by his spokesman, Abdullahi Bego, said, “The Yobe State Government is working with the Nigerian Army and other security and law enforcement agencies to ensure that all students in the school are fully accounted for.

“As the public is aware, the pupils were helped by their teachers to escape to the surrounding bushes and villages as terrorists stormed the town on Monday.

“Many pupils are still unaccounted for, but the Yobe State Government has been receiving the girls that were found in the general area to which they escaped.

“The government is coordinating with law enforcement agencies to ensure that those girls are returned safely.”

“The Yobe State Government has no credible information as to whether any of the schoolgirls was taken hostage by the terrorists.

“The Yobe State Government assures parents and the school community that it will do everything necessary to ensure that all the missing girls are found and returned to their school and families and that security is improved in the area.”

The state government, in another statement send around 10pm, said more pupils had been rescued by by “gallant officers and men of the Nigerian Army from the terrorists who abducted them.”

The government further stated that the “rescued girls are now in the custody of the Nigerian Army.”

“We will provide more details about their number and condition in due course,” the statement added.

THERE is growing concern about the critical challenge of citizens under the age of 18 voting in elections in the country. Electoral umpires and politicians in many jurisdictions are usually accused of orchestrating a litany of irregularities during and/or after elections. But an irregularity that borders on underage voting like the one that happened during the recent local council election in Kano State is a patently premeditated one that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will be hard put to wash its hands off.  INEC is the author of the voter register and the custodian of the certified electorate, which means that no one who does not have prior certification by the electoral body should be able to vote in any elections. In other words, voting by children in any election can only arise from prior compromise of the fidelity of the voter register, wittingly or even coercively. This is a shame because the situation/circumstance that gives rise to a faulty foundation will ultimately result in the collapse of whatever superstructure that is put on it. This is a critical issue that INEC will need to address very comprehensively preferably in the off-season of elections.

The February 10 local council election in Kano State that once again brought the malaise of underage voters into national focus has come and gone. The election has been lost and purportedly won but the national outrage triggered by the alleged open participation of child voters in the elections has yet to abate. Perhaps, the preponderance of condemnation that attended the shameful and embarrassing electoral irregularity did not stem from the quest for a credible  local government election in Kano State alone, but largely from the fear of underage voting in the 2019 general election. After all, it is a well established pattern in the country that results of local council elections usually go the way of the ruling parties in the states, irrespective of their popularity among the populace in terms of the delivery of the dividends of democracy. Thus, judging by the unenviable standard in the land, there is nothing unusual in the outcome of the council election in Kano State.

What is untoward and of great concern is the obvious ineligibility by reason of age of some of the electorate that allegedly helped the ruling party to achieve its landslide victory, especially because of its implications for the 2019 general election. This is a veritable apprehension since no State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) can conduct any election using a voter register other than the one supplied to it by INEC. Yes, INEC has dissociated itself from the underage voting in Kano State on the grounds that it did not conduct the election but only supplied the voter register. INEC may wash its hands off any other form of malpractice in that election but it definitely has questions to answer on the issue of underage voting because its voter register was used. It is, nonetheless, heartening that the electoral umpire has reportedly shifted ground and finally taken steps to launch an inquiry into the alleged irregularity, rather than papering over it like it did during and after the 2015 general election.

During the 2015 general election, the nation was treated to a similarly embarrassing spectacle, not only on the social media but also on national television,  of children queuing up to vote in some states, especially in the North-West. Unfortunately, the incident failed to attract universal denunciation as the one at issue, and INEC maintained stoic silence while the feeble protestations of the then ruling party was drowned by the vociferous support of those who were poised to benefit from the infamy. And since INEC has failed or neglected to purge its voter register of this dirt after the 2015 election, the recent Kano State episode is an indication that the chickens have come home to roost.

INEC needs to up its game and becomes more vigilant. The excuse that underage voters were registered because of threats to the lives of registration officers is untenable. The electoral body should have ensured that its officials were posted to areas they were familiar with and not an unfamiliar terrain where they risked being threatened and even killed for not compromising on their duties. If INEC officials were indeed railroaded into accommodating patently ineligible persons in the voter register, then there is a question mark on the fidelity of the register.  And we ask the questions as to what INEC has been doing about the registration of such underage voters and why it has kept silent on this grave matter before now.

The unscrupulous politicians and political parties that are the beneficiaries of the deficient and compromised system should not be expected to speak up against the anomaly they orchestrated in the first place. It is INEC that should brace up and design creative strategies to obviate the impairment of its constitutional responsibilities by those who are unwilling to operate within the ambit of the electoral law.

Five Nigerian police officers who were accused of killing Boko Haram’s founder Mohammed Yusuf while in their custody have been reinstated, a police oversight body said on Monday.

The officers were charged with committing a terrorist act and unlawfully killing the Islamist group’s spiritual leader during days of unrest in the northeast city of Maiduguri in July 2009.

The clashes, in which about 800 Boko Haram followers were killed, prompted an escalation in violence that has since left at least 20,000 dead and made over 2.6 million more homeless.

A judge in Abuja in late December 2015 acquitted the police on the grounds the prosecution could not establish a case against them. The ruling attracted little publicity at the time.

A spokesman for the Police Service Commission, Ikechukwu Ani, confirmed a report in the Daily Trust newspaper that the officers were now back on the beat.

“It is true. They have all been reinstated. The Police Service Commission acted upon a memo sent to it by the inspector general of police,” he told AFP.

“The memo was accompanied with the court orders that they should be reinstated. The court acquitted them of all the charges and we have no choice but to obey the orders of court.”

Amaechi Nwaokolo, a Nigeria security analyst at the Roman Institute for International Studies in Abuja, said the acquittal and reinstatement was “a source of concern”.

Boko Haram has long used the fact that no-one has been prosecuted or convicted for Yusuf’s death as a reason for its armed struggle, he argued.

“This development will further give Boko Haram a tool for recruitment and radicalisation of its ranks by using it to show the lack of justice it has been preaching,” he said.

“Extra-judicial killings by state security apparatus give terrorist groups the needed tool and justification to recruit others and carry out terrorist acts as retaliation.

“It was the killing of Yusuf that led to the escalation of the violence and the degeneration of the conflict to the level we have today.”

Nigeria’s security services have been repeatedly accused of abuses against civilians during the insurgency, including arbitrary arrests and extra-judicial killing.

Many civilians have been held for years without access to lawyers or being brought to court.

Last week, 475 were released from custody after it was found there was not enough evidence to prosecute them, at mass trials of suspects at a military facility in central Niger state.

A total of 468 others were freed last October. Taken together, they account for more than half of those on trial.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018 01:20

Six banks meet CBN’s dividend payout rule

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) circular on dividend payout by commercial banks and discount houses has been analysed based on the performances and balance sheet positions of all lenders.

A report released yesterday by Afrinvest West Africa, an investment and research firm, showed that only six banks – Access Bank, First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Guaranty Trust Bank, United Bank for Africa, Wema Bank and Zenith Bank- met the CBN’s minimum requirement for Capital Adequacy Ration (CAR) and Non-Performing Loans. Hence these banks are excluded from the restrictions on dividend payment.

The firm explained that many lenders will not be able to pay dividends based on their capital reserves as well as the proportion of Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) in a bid to forestall any threats to customer deposits in the system.

On the criteria that require lenders to meet the minimum Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) before dividend payout, the research firm said all the banks under its coverage, save for Unity and Union, met the minimum requirement stipulated by the CBN.

“For Unity, the current CAR (as at nine month 2017) is unavailable while Union Bank had a CAR of 13.3 per cent (below CBN requirement of 15 per cent in first half of 2017). We envisage Union’s CAR will improve by fiscal year 2017, adjusting for the capital raise of N50 billion via rights issue in 2017,” it said.

On another requirement that banks and discount houses that have a Composite Risk Rating (CRR) of “High” or a Non-Performing Loan (NPL) ratio of above 10 per cent shall not be allowed to pay dividend, the report said only FBN Holdings has a non-performing loan ratio above 10 per cent which should disqualify the entity from paying dividend.

“However, given the Holding company structure operated by FBN Holdings, analysts believe dividend can be paid from earnings of subsidiaries, other than the bank,” it said.

Further analysis of the report showed that banks and discount houses that meet the minimum capital adequacy ratio but have a CRR of “Above Average” or an NPL ratio of more than five per cent but less than 10 per cent shall have dividend payout ratio of not more than 30 per cent.

Under this condition, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (STI) is the only Tier-1 bank restricted to a maximum payout ratio of 30 per cent on the basis of the fact that its NPL ratio stood at 9.6 per cent in nine months of 2016.

Similarly, Diamond Bank, Fidelity Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Sterling and Union Bank are also restricted to a maximum of 30 per cent maximum payout ratio with respective NPL ratio above five per cent but below 10 per cent.

On the provision that   banks and discount houses that have capital adequacy ratios of at least three per cent above the minimum requirement, CRR of “Low” and NPL ratio of more than five per cent but less than 10 per cent, shall save dividend payout ratio of not more than 75 per cent of profit after tax.

Under this condition, ETI is the only Tier-1 bank that is restricted to 75 per cent maximum dividend payout ratio. Stanbic is the only Tier-2 bank eligible to pay up to 75 per cent as dividend payout.

On the provision that there shall be no regulatory restriction on dividend payout for banks and discount houses that meet the minimum CAR, have a CRR of “low” or “moderate” and an NPL ratio of not more than five per cent, the report said it is expected that the Board of such institutions will recommend payouts based on effective risk assessment and economic realities.

On the policy that no bank or discount house shall be allowed to pay dividend out of reserves, the analysis shows that no Nigerian bank breached this provision.

On the requirement that banks shall submit their Board approved dividend payout policy to the CBN before the payment of dividend shall be permitted, analysts believe the CBN will ensure compliance with the set guidelines before approval of dividend payment by the banks.

It said that in light of these new guidelines and based on our analysis of the banks using their nine month 2017 results, most of the banks, especially the Tier-1 banks, such as Access Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, United Bank for Africa and Zenith Bank, save for FBNH, are not likely to be significantly impacted and are expected to sustain the historical dividend payment trend.

“ETI meets the regulatory requirement for CAR, but has NPL above recommended maximum by the CBN; hence a maximum payout ratio of 30 per cent is placed on the bank. For the banks affected by the restrictions, we opine more attention will be turned towards improving NPL and shoring up capital buffers in order to ensure dividend payment,” it said.

Diamond Bank has sold off its African operations for a consideration of $75.7 million (N27.3 billion) to improve its CAR buffers. Union Bank has concluded a N50 billion rights issue in order to improve its capital base.

”Furthermore, given the premium Nigerian investors place on dividend paying stocks, we believe banks will strive to improve on dividend payment. Nevertheless, we do not rule out the possibility of some kneejerk sell-off reactions by investors especially in stocks that are affected by the dividend payment restrictions. Hence, we advise that investors tread cautiously, especially ahead of the release of full year earnings,” the analysts said.

Boko Haram jihadists launched an attack on a girls boarding school in northeast Nigeria but the students and teachers fled to safety, witnesses said Monday.

A convoy of fighters in pickup trucks descended on Dapchi village in the Bursari area of Yobe state around 6 pm (1700 GMT) targeting the school, resident Sheriff Aisami told AFP.

“When they stormed the village they began shooting and setting off explosives,” Aisami said.”This drew the attention of the girls in the Girls Science Secondary School, so the girls and the teachers were able to escape before the attackers got into the school.”

Unable to kidnap the girls, the Boko Haram fighters looted the school before fleeing.

“There was an attack on the girls secondary school in Dapchi by Boko Haram,” said a member of a local civilian militia battling the extremists.

“Obviously the attack was meant to abduct school girls but luckily they found none of the girls as they were taken away by teachers before they arrived,” said the militia member, who declined to provide his name for safety reasons.

“Military jets were deployed and are in pursuit”, he added.

It’s unclear whether anyone was killed in the violence.

The attack recalls Boko Haram’s audacious kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in April, 2014.

The kidnapping drew the world’s attention to the jihadist insurgency in northeast Nigeria.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, a former general, came to power in 2015 on a platform promising to stamp out the Islamist movement.

But despite retaking swathes of territory from Boko Haram, the group continues to stage attacks targeting both civilians and military targets, and frequently uses young girls as suicide bombers. Since 2009, the Boko Haram insurgency has left at least 20,000 dead and made over 2.6 million more homeless.

 

Pep Guardiola’s quest to win an unprecedented quadruple with Manchester City came to a stunning and controversial end when they fell to a 1-0 defeat at third-tier Wigan in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Monday.

In an uncanny repeat of the 2013 FA Cup final, in which City had a player sent off before losing to a late Wigan winner, Guardiola’s side had Fabian Delph dismissed amid stormy scenes before Will Grigg’s 79th-minute goal decided the game.

A famous night was marred, however, by a post-match pitch invasion by Wigan supporters which saw a number of them confront City players, with striker Sergio Aguero required to defend himself.

Earlier the drama had been provided by Northern Ireland international Grigg who capitalised on an error by Kyle Walker who allowed a pass to run through to the Wigan man and kept ahead of John Stones before finishing clinically from just inside the area.

It was only City’s second defeat to English opposition since losing an FA Cup semi-final to Arsenal last April while their opponents can now look forward to a quarter-final home tie with Southampton.

The pivotal sending-off arrived in first half injury-time when Fabian Delph made a rash challenge on Wigan’s Max Power, prompting referee Anthony Taylor to pull a yellow card out of his pocket before changing his mind and producing red.

That infuriated City players, who surrounded the referee, and the dispute spilled into the rival technical areas with Sergio Aguero having to be dragged away by Guardiola as he argued furiously with Wigan coaches.

The scene turned even uglier, with television cameras in the tunnel capturing footage of Guardiola and Wigan manager Paul Cook in a major verbal confrontation and being kept apart by staff.

Wasteful Aguero

City might have enjoyed a far more comfortable evening had their record goalscorer Aguero not missed a golden opportunity after just two minutes, heading over Bernardo Silva’s pinpoint cross from just six yards.

And home keeper Christian Walton needed to be alert a few moments later, diving smartly to parry away a fierce strike from Ilkay Gundogan.

Guardiola had made six changes for the tie, while still fielding a strong line-up, but two of his fringe players — full-back Danilo and back-up goalkeeper Claudio Bravo were guilty of errors which offered the hosts a glimmer of hope.

First Bravo and Danilo dithered in dealing with the ball, almost presenting Gareth Roberts with a chance on the six-yard line.

And then Danilo was robbed of the ball by Roberts, the ball breaking for Grigg who raced half the length of the field before shooting into the side-netting.

City were enjoying the bulk of possession but, without the rested Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, were struggling to create clear chances.

They came close, from Leroy Sane’s 26th-minute corner which Gundogan flicked across the six-yard area, but defender Aymeric Laporte failed to connect with the ball at his feet.

When City next threatened, after Stones headed down Delph’s cross, Fernandinho’s shot rose over by some distance when he looked certain to score.

Gundogan and Danilo, twice, also threatened the Wigan goal and Walton saved superbly from an Aguero drive, moments before the explosive dismissal of Delph.

Guardiola brought on England right-back Walker as a half-time substitute, moving Danilo over to Delph’s vacant left-back spot.

Despite their disadvantage, City still enjoyed the majority of possession although, apart from Chey Dunkley blocking a Danilo shot, there was little to concern Walton as the tie approached the 65-minute mark and Guardiola opted to bring De Bruyne into the fray.

The Belgian’s introduction brought a far greater threat from City, particularly from set-pieces.

On 73 minutes, De Bruyne found Aguero at the near-post but his shot was blocked and Danilo maintained the pressure with a low centre across the goalline before Grigg’s dramatic intervention.

PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Tubes Creation.

PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Tubes Creation.

PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Tubes Creation.

PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Tubes Creation.

The Senate on Thursday invited the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, to appear before it to explain how the $600 million Euro bond sourced from the Chinese Government was used.

The upper chamber said $600 million loan received to revive the power sector was allegedly diverted by the Federal Government to remodel four airports in the country.

It noted that there was $600 million Euro bond from the Chinese Government for the rehabilitation of the power sector, out of which $100 million was allegedly diverted as counterpart funding for the remodeling of Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt Airports.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Mathew Urhghide, issued the summon at the meeting of the committee on Thursday.

Urhoghide, (Edo South), said the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the Director- General of Debt Management Office (DMO), Mrs. Patience Oniha, would also appear before the committee on the matter.

Urhoghide, who spoke when the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zakari, appeared before his committee, said those invited should appear before the committee next week to explain the rationale behind the movement of such loans from its original purpose to another.

He said there was the need to establish the desirability of the loan.

”My mistress usually inserts sticks inside my vagina, hits me with iron rods, wires and also ties me with chain whenever she is going out.

“My Aunty always use blade to cut my skin.

“These scars, injuries on my head, body and lips were inflicted on me by my Aunty for 4 years, ‘’ Miss Faith Nwanja, 12-year-old house help narrated her ordeal in her dialect.

Nwanje, currently in custody of Ezza-South Local Government in Ebony state, disclosed in Abakaliki, the dehumanizing treatment meted on her by her mistress, Mrs Nkechinyere Bartholomew in Onitsha, Anambra state.

The girl, a native of Okoffia-Ohaji, said Bartholomew, now at large, subjected her to serious torture for the four years.

The victim said she was suffering great pains in parts of her body where her mistress used different objects, including iron rods and wire to beat her.

Mrs Ngozi Nwanja, the mother of the victim, said her daughter was 8 when she was handed over to Bartholomew.

She said efforts to see her daughter was not successful as the Bartholomew’s mother always claimed that her daughter’s contact number was not reachable.

“When Bartholomew came for my child through her mother who resided in Idembia Ezza-South LGA, she promised that her daughter will take good care of her.’’

The brutalised maid

The Vice Chairman of the Council, Mrs Caro Ewa, explained that the victim was brought to her on February 12 by Head of Department of Education and Social Welfare of the council.

She said the Chairman of the council, Mr Sunday Ogodo, ordered the arrest of the mother and brother of the accused because they were conniving to shield Bartholomew from arrest.

“Her mother and brother have been released by the police, but her younger sister is still in detention because she stays in Onitsha with them and also brought the victim back to Ebonyi along with her aunty.

“No government will support this evil, because the level of injuries on the child’s body is weird,” Ewa said.

Meanwhile, Mr Godwin Igwe, Head of Department, Child Development in the state Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, described the degree of injures on the victim as “real damage’’.

According to him, the perpetrator boasted that she will settle the matter with money.

“This is worrisome. There is increasing cases of child brutalization.

“From all indications Nwanja’s hand is condemned and we don’t know the extent of damage to her brain and other parts of her body,” Igwe said.

Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State

Igwe appealed to the government, Civil Society Organisation (CSO), philanthropists, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), the police and public who are interested in Child protection to save children from abuses.

Bartholomew, he said, would be prosecuted to serve as deterrent to others and the victim would be taken to the hospital for medical examination and treatment.

Nwanja with her mangled arms

“We will take steps to stop the trend as its portraying a negative image of the country before the International community,” Igwe said.

 
 
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